Salesforce.com, as you might guess, is doing a lot of things right in the marketplace. Okay, that’s an understatement: They grew 35 percent in last year alone. But they’re not stopping there.
In the Elevate Value™ Case Study breakout at Conversations That Win, Larry Shurtz, SVP of Enterprise Business Unit at Salesforce, and Conrad Smith, VP of Consulting Services at Corporate Visions, talked about how Salesforce.com chose Executive Conversations to elevate their sales team with the skills needed to match their rapid growth.
Here are a few key highlights from the discussion:
- Many sales people are adept at talking about products. In fact, recent research by Forrester says that 88 percent of executives see sales pros as really good at the sales product conversations. However, only 24 percent of executives say salespeople are proficient at business conversations. Yet, executives want business conversations four times more than product conversations.
- Five years ago, Salesforce.com talked to prospects about opportunities and contracts. Fast forward to now, and it’s all about customer engagement. This is a materially different conversation, a major shift in corporate sales strategy—one that’s more aligned to having better conversations.
- You do need sales professionals effectively trained in product knowledge, but that should function as the bridge that gets them over to the business conversation.
- There are three basic challenges that salespeople typically encounter in conversations with executive-level decision makers (competence, confidence and the ability to demonstrate a compelling business case to justify customer investment). To overcome these challenges, they must have 1) Specific conversational business competencies so they can go toe-to-toe with executives; 2) Confidence to speak with authority about what’s really important to executives; and 3) a strong training support structure to enable them to adopt and deliver the skills salespeople learn in Executive Conversations.
- The best way to instill confidence is through repetition. In Executive Conversations training, salespeople are paired up so they can learn from each other and offer help if needed. Practice, repetition and reinforcement inspires confidence.
- Due to improved conversations, Salesforce.com has increased their number of big deals, shortened sales cycles, and grabbed more senior-level conversations. There’s now much more confidence when walking the halls of the C-suite.
- Salesforce.com started with Power Messaging then moved to Executive Conversations. But interestingly, Shurtz recommends starting with Executive Conversations before moving on to Power Messaging. These two workshops in combination can be transformative.